Automotive

Driving under the influence: Autonomous big-rig delivers a truckload of Bud

Driving under the influence: A...
The Otto truck that delivered a shipment of Budweiser, is finished in a special livery
The Otto truck that delivered a shipment of Budweiser, is finished in a special livery
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The cans of Budweiser delivered by Otto have a special mark on them
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The cans of Budweiser delivered by Otto have a special mark on them
The Otto truck that delivered a shipment of Budweiser, is finished in a special livery
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The Otto truck that delivered a shipment of Budweiser, is finished in a special livery
Otto's systems can be retrofitted to existing manually driven trucks
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Otto's systems can be retrofitted to existing manually driven trucks
Otto is a young company, but it is already home to more than 40 employees
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Otto is a young company, but it is already home to more than 40 employees
This could become a more normal sight in years to come
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This could become a more normal sight in years to come
This Volvo truck made the trip across Colorado, loaded with Budweiser
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This Volvo truck made the trip across Colorado, loaded with Budweiser
Otto's self-driving trucks on the road
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Otto's self-driving trucks on the road
Otto is a part of Uber's stable
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Otto is a part of Uber's stable

Self-driving trucks have proven they're able to drive closer together than their human-controlled counterparts, and they have the potential to create big fuel savings, but there's still one crucial test for the technology: Can it deliver beer? Otto, a subsidiary of Uber, has answered that question by delivering a shipment of Budweiser in Colorado.

Loaded up with 51,744 cans of Budweiser, a Volvo kitted out with Otto's self-driving hardware made the trek from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs, via downtown Denver. The truck used its onboard cameras, lidar and radar sensors to navigate the entirety of I-25 without any input from the supervising human driver.

All up, the retrofitted self-driving hardware is worth around US$30,000, and can be fitted to any truck with an automatic gearbox. At the moment, Otto's software is being subjected to further testing on a fleet of big-rigs in the Bay Area.

This is in line with what Otto promised earlier this year. Unlike the Mercedes Future Truck 2025, which looks to a day where drivers won't be needed in the cabin, Otto's system is designed to lighten the load during monotonous highway miles, before reverting back to a person when things get a bit trickier in town.

The shipment of Budweiser is the first to be delivered by a self-driving truck, a fact celebrated by a small note on the bottom of all the cans in the shipment. You can watch the operation in action in the video below.

Source: Otto Blog

Otto and Budweiser: First Shipment by Self-Driving Truck

5 comments
TedF
Simple question, robots brew beer, robots deliver beer but robots don't drink beer (or anything) With all jobs automated, presumably the beer is free?
byrneheart
Someone still has to own these trucks, be responsible for maintenance and scheduling. Big companies often look to save on these costs by using independents. The owner driver will become the owner administrator.
Joe Blough
The truck actually had a driver to finish the delivery and maneuver the vehicle through side streets to the delivery dock. So what's the point if you need a driver? The news media was all a goggle that this would solve the driver shortage issue in trucking. Not with this system. Headline: Driverless beer truck crushes mother with baby and stroller. There's progress for you.
Suman M Subramanian
Was it accompanied by an autonomous Trans Am?
Grunchy
I agree, it needs the Trans Am accompanying vehicle to really be impressive. But seriously, this is a big robot machine. When I studied robotics, human safety was emphasized - you would never enter the working envelope of an energized robot, because you couldn't expect to be perfectly safe around it. Now here we are, a few years later, cyber security is pretty much a joke - and we are being asked to accept massive huge robotic trucks barreling towards us at highway speeds. Just imagine some terrorist group gets in control of one or more of these machines! Do we so soon forget 14 July 2016 in Nice? During Tour de France? Personally speaking, knowing what I think I know about terrorist hatred and motivation, the myth of cyber security, and the overwhelmingly destructive potential of free-agent robots - we are decades away from being ready for this kind of technology. It will take a very big catastrophe before an ego the size of Elon Musk's would agree to slow down. Maybe I'm the first to suggest: "hey - make sure it's safe. Not apparently safe - actually safe".